Author Topic: DCC system recommendations for a medium-sized HOn3 layout?  (Read 1160 times)

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Dave V

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DCC system recommendations for a medium-sized HOn3 layout?
« on: January 19, 2018, 08:58:42 PM »
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I'm on the fence as to whether or not to cannibalize the Digitrax DCC system from the Juniata Division.  The layout's buyer isn't particular about whether or not he wants the DCC system with the layout, so part of me wants to save a buck.  But the system the JD uses was on the precipice of obsolescence when I purchased it in about 2005...the old Super Empire Builder.

At the time it was important to me that I be able to run analog engines as I slowly converted my N scale fleet over to DCC.  I'm in the same boat today as 1 of my 4 narrow gauge locos (the brass 4-6-0) has no decoder, and neither does the galloping goose.  They will eventually, but i want to do them right and with sound, and that's gonna cost me.

At most I might run 3 locos at once (a double-header running against a schedule goose) so I don't need a lot of power or a million address slots.  I do, however, have sophisticated Soundtraxx Tsunami sound decoders in 3 of my locos and I want to be able to access all the sounds with whatever throttle I end up having.

I'm also not thrilled with tethered throttles.  They're fine for the JD where you can see the whole layout in one field of view, but for a layout that will have sides, and aisle, and backdrops, I'm not relishing the idea of having to periodically unplug the throttle to move with the train.

So...  Digitrax is what I know, but I know it's not the best system out there.  For a layout roughly 8 x 12 that will have visual blocks and a walk-around and low traffic volume, what system or "starter set" would you recommend?
« Last Edit: January 19, 2018, 09:05:43 PM by Dave V »
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Jbub

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Re: DCC system recommendations for a medium-sized layout?
« Reply #1 on: January 19, 2018, 09:06:20 PM »
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I'm leaning towards the new ESU Cab Control. Wireless touch screen throttle with big control knob for throttle. It might be over kill power wise but considering what other wireless systems cost it's one of the lesser expensive set ups
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Re: DCC system recommendations for a medium-sized HOn3 layout?
« Reply #2 on: January 19, 2018, 09:44:49 PM »
+1
ESU is an excellent system, but it is a bit pricey (especially the wireless throttles).   As a locally made alternative you could look at the NCE system.  You could even get your feet wet for less than $150 (NCE PowerCab - a complete DCC system in a throttle).  If you decide that you like it, as you expand, that PowerCab system can be utilized as a standard tethered NCE throttle.
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wcfn100

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Re: DCC system recommendations for a medium-sized HOn3 layout?
« Reply #3 on: January 19, 2018, 09:57:49 PM »
+1
I got one of the Digitrax WiFi modules for x-mas I'd let you try out if you want to see how a smartphone throttle feels with your current system.


Jason

Dave V

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Re: DCC system recommendations for a medium-sized HOn3 layout?
« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2018, 10:11:14 PM »
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I got one of the Digitrax WiFi modules for x-mas I'd let you try out if you want to see how a smartphone throttle feels with your current system.


Jason

I did WiThrottle back in the day...I wasn't a fan.  Is this better?
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Jbub

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Re: DCC system recommendations for a medium-sized HOn3 layout?
« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2018, 10:22:38 PM »
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That's what's nice about the ESU throttle. It has all 28 functions through the touch screen but you can use the physical buttons for horn/whistle, bell and what not. Plus the throttle is controlled with the knob, not a slider.

It's definitely not the least expensive  DCC but it's a fully capable system that is wireless for less than other out of the box wireless systems.

And since it's an android based throttle, you can use Engine driver on it. Although engine driver doesn't recognize the throttle knob currently, they are working on it.

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wcfn100

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Re: DCC system recommendations for a medium-sized HOn3 layout?
« Reply #6 on: January 19, 2018, 10:26:33 PM »
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I did WiThrottle back in the day...I wasn't a fan.  Is this better?

Don't know. It just eliminates the need for JRMI and a computer to be wireless.

Jason

Dave V

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Re: DCC system recommendations for a medium-sized HOn3 layout?
« Reply #7 on: January 19, 2018, 10:31:35 PM »
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That's what's nice about the ESU throttle. It has all 28 functions through the touch screen but you can use the physical buttons for horn/whistle, bell and what not. Plus the throttle is controlled with the knob, not a slider.

It's definitely not the least expensive  DCC but it's a fully capable system that is wireless for less than other out of the box wireless systems.

And since it's an android based throttle, you can use Engine driver on it. Although engine driver doesn't recognize the throttle knob currently, they are working on it.



Ah, well...  We're Apple people.
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nstars

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Re: DCC system recommendations for a medium-sized HOn3 layout?
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2018, 12:00:55 PM »
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If I look at DCC developments, than my feeling is that WiFi throttles are the future. The nice part is that you’re not stuck with proprietary systems but could use different brands of throttles as long as they support an open standard like for example the JMRI WiServer.  A smartphone can be used as a throttle, but the disadvantage of smartphones is lack of tactile feeling. An ESU Mobile Control with a new version engine driver or the new TCS throttle will solve that problem, but the right combination is not yet available. BTW, if you use a computer to run JMRI, the brand of command station has become unimportant.

As I mentioned things are happening, but the perfect system is in my opinion not yet available. So perhaps it may be better to wait with buying a new system and use your Digitrax system for this moment. If you really want to have a wireless throttle, I would recommend you can try the WiFi module from Digitrax together with the WiThrottle app for the IPhone. My first impression of WiThrottle was not great (it looks very simple) but I was surprised how well it worked.

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Re: DCC system recommendations for a medium-sized HOn3 layout?
« Reply #9 on: January 20, 2018, 01:55:52 PM »
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Ah, well...  We're Apple people.

We are too when it comes to phones. But I bought one of these systems when they first came out and I like it. The throttles are pricey but it sounds like you'll only need one, which comes with the cabcontrol system( I have two because my layout is setup as a two person op). It also allows you to run your turnouts and other things very easily with that throttle. It also allows you to very easily access all of the functions as you had said you wanted. I believe the DT500 is the only way to do that with Digitrax now(I'm not quite certain but it's the only Digitrax throttle I've seen with a bunch of the function buttons). As for NCE, I have no experience with it.

MK

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Re: DCC system recommendations for a medium-sized HOn3 layout?
« Reply #10 on: January 20, 2018, 02:44:20 PM »
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I believe the DT500 is the only way to do that with Digitrax now(I'm not quite certain but it's the only Digitrax throttle I've seen with a bunch of the function buttons).

I think the DT402 can do that too.

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Re: DCC system recommendations for a medium-sized HOn3 layout?
« Reply #11 on: January 20, 2018, 02:59:03 PM »
+1
I think recovering the DB150 from the JD is your best bet. Technology on the control station end isn't much different now. You're already familiar with the frequently-obtuse Digitrax system, so leverage that knowledge. Just add a UR92 and DT500D and you've spent less than trying to migrate to a completely new system with a new UI.
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MK

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Re: DCC system recommendations for a medium-sized HOn3 layout?
« Reply #12 on: January 20, 2018, 03:05:30 PM »
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UR92 and any of the "D" throttles are pretty robust.

AKNscale

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Re: DCC system recommendations for a medium-sized HOn3 layout?
« Reply #13 on: January 20, 2018, 03:20:24 PM »
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I think the DT402 can do that too.

You can access up to 20 I believe but it's not nearly as simple as push a button. I do have a 402 and I've never accessed any function above 9.

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Re: DCC system recommendations for a medium-sized HOn3 layout?
« Reply #14 on: January 20, 2018, 04:07:44 PM »
+1
F0-F28 are available on a 402
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